Hot Water: Boiling, Steaming, Pressure-Cooking

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Boiling and steaming are the simplest methods for cooking vegetables, because they require no judgment of cooking temperature: whether water is boiling on a high flame or low, its temperature is 212°F/100°C (near sea level, with predictably lower temperatures at higher elevations). And because hot water and steam are excellent carriers of heat, these are efficient methods as well, ideal for the rapid cooking of green vegetables that minimizes their loss of color. One important difference is that hot water dissolves and extracts some pectin and calcium from cell walls, while steaming leaves them in place: so boiling will soften vegetables faster and more thoroughly.